Chris Oliver-Taylor and Liz Doran. 

Fremantle, Micanical Media and 2Jons are teaming up for Barons, an international surfing drama for the ABC.

Created by Micanical’s Michael Lawrence (Bra Boys, Uncensored) and 2Jons’ John Molloy (The Gloaming, Molly), the eight-part series is set in the 1970s and follows two surfers who become fierce rivals as they create billion-dollar empires, winning and losing themselves along the way.

Liz Doran (Please Like Me, Doctor Doctor, Molly) leads the writing team which includes Matt Cameron (Secret City, Bloom, Jack Irish) and Marieke Hardy (Nowhere Boys, Seven Types of Ambiguity, Packed to the Rafters).

The project, which has clear parallels to the Billabong and Quiksilver sagas, is in advanced development and the producers aim to start pre-production by the end of the year and shoot in Australia, the US and Indonesia in April-May.

Lawrence and Molloy secured a development deal with the ABC and partnered with Fremantle. “It will be a highly polished, bold, big budget drama,” Fremantle Asia Pacific CEO and executive producer Chris Oliver-Taylor tells IF.

“It’s an epic story which goes to the heart of Australian surfing culture and is part of Australia’s modern history. It will attract a world class cast of Australian and international actors.

Barons embodies Fremantle’s global ambition to produce premium drama and collaborate with the very best creative talent.”

Oliver-Taylor is in talks with a number of potential US partners. Fremantle International will handle sales in the rest of the world.

Emmy Award-winning surf director Taylor Steele (Momentum Generation, Proximity) will direct the action sequences and talks are ongoing with several experienced drama directors. Casting is underway.

The series will be produced by Molloy, Lawrence, Doran and Fremantle’s Justin Davies, his first Australian gig since he returned last year from the UK, where he produced a raft of series including Quacks, Absolutely Fabulous and Beautiful People.

Molloy and Lawrence said: “Barons is a project full of risk, mischief, soul and beauty. Working with this team of creatives is a joy and we look forward to sharing the humour, adventure and drama of these spirited characters with audiences.”

Sally Riley, ABC head of drama and Indigenous said: “We have been chasing this show for a while now and we are so happy to announce its addition to the ABC slate. It has wonderful multi-faceted characters, a canvas that spans the best surf breaks in the world but its toes are firmly planted in the beaches of Australia.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with such a stellar team to bring this extraordinary Australian story to a global audience.”

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